A few weeks ago, I brought in some Candy Kitten sweets for my birthday at work.
I was a little disheartened after one editor refused a sweet on the grounds that he ‘didn’t eat vegan stuff’.
Having kept quiet about veganism since joining, I felt a little embarrassed and vowed never to try again.
However, by the end of the day the whole bag had been eaten (and not by me)…as had the Livia’s Kitchen Millionaire Shortbread Bites – which are also gluten and dairy-free.
More vegan options
The next week, I offered another editor some of my Hippeas and that afternoon, she told me that she’d made an Ocado order especially to buy in a load after I told her of my struggles to find lactose-free vinegar flavored crisps.
And since then, I’ve been sharing various snacks with my colleagues who ask to look at my lunch every day and have been asking for alternative milk recommendations and places to try that aren’t ‘super healthy’.
It’s been a total revelation for me, as much for them. So much so, in fact, that I’ve been asked to compile a list of ‘vegan snack swaps’ for my desk.
Journey to vegan
But that’s really how my own journey towards veganism began – with a former colleague asking me to try bits of her lunch and asking my opinion on certain alternatives.
A couple of years ago, I was eating halloumi – and the odd fish – like no one’s business. I’d tried to go vegan in the past, but it never stuck.
So, my pal in my old office used to give me squares of new vegan chocolate to try. She’d make epic-looking curries and let me have a taste. She introduced me to nutritional yeast and smoked tofu.
And before long I didn’t have an excuse not to be vegan.
The transition from veggie or pescetarianism to veganism was effortless. And a few months later, I tried the same approach with my ribs-and-steak-eating boyfriend, who turned vegan literally overnight last November.
Veganism obviously isn’t just about food, but it’s a jolly good place to start, and it’s often the thing that puts people off about becoming more eco-friendly.
From there, it’s a logical transition to learning more about why veganism is important and doing your research into animal cruelty, environmental impact, and health.
Change scares people; that’s why there’s so much negativity in mainstream media at the moment directed towards the movement.
It’s not about people not wanting to make the world a better place, it’s being nervous about having to overhaul your life completely. And food is incredibly emotionally-charged, so often people squirm when you throw a light on their eating practices.
But putting the options out there is really the key.
According to a new study, 51 percent of chefs in the USA added vegan items to their menus – a 31 percent increase from 2017.
Food industry insight company Foodable Labs said the increase may be partly down to the influence of social media food-bloggers sharing more and more vegan options online.
America’s leading takeaway service, GrubHub also said it has seen a 17 percent increase in vegan dishes being ordered.
Go on Instagram and #vegan has nearly 70m posts, while #veganfood offers over 13m. That food porn, I bet, is largely responsible for the hoards of young people joining the movement.
It also helps that all these new plant-based eateries are so damn Instagrammable (go to Unity Diner – it’s almost like the wall art was made for a #nofilter post!).
If we want more people to go vegan, we’ve got to make it more approachable – it’s got to be easy, cool, tasty and guilt-free.
It doesn’t matter why people are eating vegan, or how often they’re doing so; every little helps.